The second day of the presidential recount went incredibly slow on Saturday, especially in Milwaukee County – where observers representing President Donald Trump’s campaign have clashed, objected and objected again.
A Trump watcher, according to a Brown Deer election official, said the campaign opposed all mail-in ballots because they were folded – even though they had to be folded to fit in envelopes.
Other Trump watchers have objected to the number of stake workers casting ballots, according to officials in Cudahy and the City of Milwaukee. Still other Trump watchers have complained that Oak Creek workers are counting too quickly for them to look properly.
In one Milwaukee neighborhood, observers objected to every envelope. In another, they opposed any postal vote.
At times, spirits have erupted among lawyers and commissioners negotiating the thoroughness of the recount, which in Milwaukee County is already late.
In Dane County, meanwhile, the effort shifted slowly but more smoothly. The energy inside the Monona Terrace has been brought under control with only an occasional objection drawing attention.
All of the Nov. 3 election ballots in the two counties – the state’s largest and most democratic – are recounted after Trump’s campaign paid $ 3 million to cover costs. His campaign hopes to reverse the results in Wisconsin, which Democrat Joe Biden won by nearly 21,000 votes.
The long-drawn-out effort is part of an even longer shotgun attempt by Trump to retain the White House. He would also need to cancel the results in several other states.
Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said the tally was already late, with municipalities due to do their recounts on Friday still present and working on Saturday.
“As you can see, things are moving a little slower than we would like, but we are working hard to resolve issues as they arise,” Christenson said at a press briefing. ‘afternoon.
At some point, if the backlog persists, he said, the county will not have enough tables to accommodate all the municipalities that need to recount their ballots.
He did not anticipate that the delays would increase the $ 2 million price tag of the Milwaukee County recount portion, paid for by the Trump campaign, unless it became necessary to secure more space and tables for remedy a backlog.
Counties have a December 1 deadline to complete the recount.
As the recount unfolded downtown, a group of Trump supporters held a “Make America Great Again” rally at Mayfair Road and North Avenue in Wauwatosa. The rally came less than 24 hours after eight people were injured in a shooting at the nearby Mayfair shopping center, which was closed on Saturday.
Hundreds of Trump supporters waved American and Trump flags. The controversial Proud Boys group ensured the “security” of the event, including helping people cross the streets in the high traffic area.
Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., a prominent Trump supporter who helped organize the event, said he invited the Proud Boys.
“I want to thank the Proud Boys for being here and providing security for this thing. Where is Tosa’s police? Clarke said, adding “we would be alone” without them.
Many objections, few invalid ballots
At the Wisconsin Center, tense discussions and objections were the rule rather than the exception.
But by 2 p.m., only three ballots had been spoiled. One was a ballot from the Village of Bayside, which was drawn at random and invalidated because an unaddressed postal ballot envelope had been accepted in the village.
Shortly after the count began, Trump campaign lawyers Joe Voiland and Stewart Karge demanded that the tally “stop immediately,” claiming that “hundreds or thousands” of ballots and envelopes opposed by observers had not been set aside by workers.
In some cases, observers of the Trump campaign have objected to large clusters of ballots and envelopes – including every mail-in ballot envelope in Milwaukee City Ward 5 and every ballot cast in the Ward 1, said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the city’s electoral commission. .
The two predominantly African-American neighborhoods are on the north side of town.
Neil Albrecht of the city of Milwaukee said a Trump campaign observer moved from table to table to oppose every ballot in the city.
Polling officers had previously been instructed to set aside envelopes where the ink does not match – for example, if the witness’s signature and address are in a different colored ink. They were also tasked with setting aside envelopes from “indefinitely confined” voters. These would later be considered by the County Council of Solicitors.
The three-person panel consists of Democrats Tim Posnanski and Dawn Martin and Republican Rick Baas.
When Milwaukee County election officials asked lawyers for Trump’s campaign about the wave of objections, Voiland said the campaign would not argue that every absent, folded ballot is invalid – because every missing ballot is folded to be placed in its envelope.
The exchanges between the negotiators of the recount were sometimes strained. At one point, Milwaukee County Corporation attorney Margaret Daun told one of the Trump campaign lawyers not to speak to her. Later, a lawyer for Trump told Daun to direct his legal advice only to canvassers’ advice.
Christenson said a lack of organization on Trump’s side was hampering even the campaign’s demanded recount.
“The Trump campaign is continually revisiting the issues the committee has spoken on, such as observers saying they cannot see when, again, this has already been addressed,” Christenson, a Democrat, told reporters .
He said there seemed to be a mismatch between Trump’s lawyers arguing in front of the three-member solicitation committee and lawyers in the aisles and observers at each of the tables where the count takes place.
Another problem, Christenson said, was that observers were “disruptive,” asking question after question and telling election workers to stop what they were doing.
“It is not our job to train their observers on what they observe,” he said. “They clearly don’t know what they’re doing so they keep asking questions. And we said to the Trump campaign, you have to tell your people what you are looking for here because they oppose every poll. .. “
Madison’s account was slow but less controversial than the arguments in Milwaukee.
The day started off without a hitch with the public tabulator test, said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell. There were no objections and the counting officers were able to begin scanning the ballots and absence envelopes.
McDonell said Dane County uses electoral systems and software tabulation systems, which were not questioned by the Trump campaign, which criticized Dominion Voting Systems machines.
“There are a number of counties that use Dominion, but none of the Dominion counties are part of the recount,” McDonell noted.
The only problem that persisted throughout the day was social distancing, McDonell said.
Trump campaign watchers started the day by gathering in large crowds around tables with objections, which made some of Biden’s watchers uncomfortable. Monona Terrace employees made rounds throughout the day, reminding participants to stay 6 feet apart and sit in the chairs provided.
“There are still social distancing issues, but compared to yesterday it’s a dramatic improvement,” McDonell said.
Only a few ballots had been invalidated early Saturday afternoon, he said, mainly due to missing signatures on absent-minded envelopes.
The Dane County Solicitors Council includes McDonell, a Democrat, as well as Democrat Allen Arntsen and Republican Joyce Waldrop.
McDonell had no estimate of when the recount would be completed on Saturday afternoon, but said the process is expected to accelerate in the coming days, now that workers and observers are familiar with the processes. He expected workers and observers to work until about 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. Saturday.